UNICEF builds sanitation infrastructure to transform the lives of children and their families
Poor water and sanitation infrastructure in Al Ghobeiry area has been heavily impacting its citizens with floods and blocked roads in winter. UNICEF provides families and children with access to good sanitation
A combination of heavy rains with undersized and poorly maintained infrastructure in the country, have made stories of flooded houses and stores and blocked roads not uncommon for the cities of Lebanon., Mostly for Beirut and its suburbs, were flooding is becoming a regular phenomenon during winter threatening the safety of families and their children.
Mahdi has been living in Rehab area, part of Ghobeiry cadastral limits, for more than 30 years. He shares with us the suffering endured by the citizens of the region throughout the years. “During winter, rainwater would cover the streets and we would be unable to open our stores”, said Mahdi. In this area, streets would turn into rivers causing traffic and economic paralysis. Within today’s unprecedented economic circumstances, citizens do not tolerate to close their source of income.
Following consultations and discussions with the Union of Dahye Municipalities, and with funds from the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, UNICEF built a stormwater drainage network in Ghobeiry to separate rainwater from sewage water and eliminate floods during winter season.
The project's goal is to separate rainwater from sewage water by establishing an independent network to drain rainwater and connecting the newly constructed network to the existing storm water network. More than 80,000 inhabitants would benefit from the implementation of the project.
“It is the first winter that we witness with dignity.”, said Amina* a citizen of Al Rehab area. “Every winter was a disaster for us. Sewage water would reach our homes and the smell coming from the waterways was awful. Today, and thanks to UNICEF, I am feeling secured and safe in my own home”, she added. The situation gets more serious when people would be vigilant to pass by any electricity pole, so they don't get electrocuted.
The project involves the construction of main lines and a rainwater drainage network that will extend from the Al-Rehab area to the intersection of Sabra Street and connecting to an existing underground box culvert near Beirut Airport's old road. “Once the rainwater was separated from sewer network, people noticed the difference and life is back to normal”, said Hussein, another citizen who previously lost his car due to floods in the streets.
The project, which reduces or eliminates floods that previously occurred in the area, has also secured income generation and employment opportunities for more than 189 youth through UNICEF’s Job Creation Programme. Mirna, a youth worker explained how many families relied on the income generated by working in this project to buy their needs “Throughout the current economic crisis, it is hard for me to rely on my parents to pay my university tuition fees and ensure my daily needs as a woman. This project was a salvation for me”, said Mirna.
Youth from different nationalities, backgrounds and experiences worked together to implement the project, which created cohesion and a spirit of cooperation and teamwork. They gained new skills related to their field of studies and learned how to communicate and collaborate with the society. “Being a student is important, but what is more important is putting the theories I am studying into practice”, said Alaa, a youth worker.
Previously, floods have been severely affecting the region for decades, causing health and environmental problems as well as damage to residents' properties and cars. Following the implementation of the project, youth were able to witness the gratitude on people’s faces. Building a safe and sustainable infrastructure is fundamental.